7:00 p.m. Wednesday. Edna and I are at our usual spot, the Starlight Lounge, having our usual cocktail. We’ve each ordered a Zombie. A most appropriate inside joke.
We are dressed in slightly different variations of the same outfit. Long-sleeved silk crepe dresses and close-fitting hats adorned with fake flowers and grosgrain ribbon. Gloves, thick stockings and patent leather T-strap heels. Heavily applied foundation. Lots of rouge-and raspberry lipstick. A little too garish of a shade if you ask me.
It’s the end of October, yet nearly as stiflingly hot as August, and in our layers of clothing we are uncomfortable. Having sought the refuge of a darkly shadowed back corner booth, we bemoan, between sips of rum and citrus, the absence of an autumn that is cold and crisp, and we worry, in this heat, how much longer we can keep up our charade.
Nearly a year has gone by since Edna and I met and started having drinks at the Starlight. Funny, not meeting each other before-living as we did in such a small town. In any case, last December we found ourselves laid out on side-by-side porcelain slabs, wearing our Sunday best and miraculously revived, owing to having been pumped full of straight gin instead of the usual preservatives. (It would seem that the undertaker had an aberrant sense of humor, or perhaps he was simply celebrating the end of Prohibition a little too liberally.)
I notice, as I reach for my mint-garnished glass, the tiniest smudge of powdery green mold on the sliver of mottled skin peeking out between the soiled edges of my right sleeve and my glove, and I don’t know which I find more distressing. That my clothes are starting to look shabby-or that I am.
Taking a last hard swallow of my Zombie, and feeling rather drained myself, I mumble to Edna that we’d better order another round.
Just to be safe.
Historical note: I had to fudge the facts a bit for this one. While Prohibition ended in 1933, the Zombie wasn’t concocted until the late 30’s. (But I love fudge, so it’s ok!)